Today is Emancipation Day in Washington DC, a holiday commemorating the day President Abraham Lincoln freed slaves in Washington - nine months before he issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

In a paper statement marking the holiday, President Obama urged lawmakers to give the District of Columbia a voting member of Congress, much as he did when he was a presidential candidate and Illinois Senator.

"Americans from all walks of life are gathering in Washington today to remind members of Congress that although DC residents pay federal taxes and serve honorably in our armed services, they do not have a vote in Congress or full autonomy over local issues," Mr Obama wrote. "And so I urge Congress to finally pass legislation that provides DC residents with voting representation and to take steps to improve the Home Rule Charter."

The District has no representation in the US Senate, and has only delegate in the House of Representatives who is not allowed to vote on the House floor, only on procedural matters and in committee meetings. (DC is entitled to 3 electoral colleges votes however).

The Senate passed a bill granting DC a vote more than a year ago, but the bill has stalled in the House.